The rapid rise in the price of Bitcoin is a driving force behind a rise in cybercrime, according to new research.
As the price of Bitcoin surged almost 400% between October 2020 and May 2021, the number of cyberattacks rose 192%, according to Barracuda Networks, which offers products and services that protect against malicious software attacks.
Cryptocurrency has long been a favorite for cybercriminals. And Bitcoin historically is the go-to currency.
Colonial Pipeline, which operates a critical pipeline for refined oil products, paid ransomware extortionists roughly 75 Bitcoin, or about $4.4 million at the time of the transaction, to recover stolen data – though the majority of that ransom was later recovered by the Justice Department.
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And a major meat supplier, JBS, said that it paid $11 million in Bitcoin to hackers as a result of a ransomware attack.
The rise in cyberattacks cited by Barracuda research involved fraudulent email or “impersonation,” which has always been an effective tool for hackers.
“Instead of impersonating regular banks, hackers are now impersonating digital wallets and crypto-related apps with fake security alerts to steal login credentials,” Barracuda said in a statement.
“Cryptocurrency seems to be a perfect currency for criminal activity — it’s unregulated, difficult to trace, and increasing in value. All of this provided criminals with additional motivation to attack,” according to Barracuda.
Another trend playing into criminals’ hands is work from home.
“More data is now created and stored in collaboration apps, and more information is exposed, creating more targets and potential value for criminals,” Barracuda said.
And these days you don’t need to be a computer genius to launch a ransomware attack. Ransomware-as-a-service – which allows you to essentially hire someone to carry out an attack for you — is a red-hot business on the dark web.